Friday, May 16, 2008

Buttermilk Scones

I had a small-town Wyoming upbringing. (All towns in Wyoming are, by default, small towns.) Believe me when I say the state wasn’t very progressive or worldly when I was growing up. College brought me to Colorado, which was a step up, but my gang and I stayed close to campus mostly. Since graduating from college I feel like I've been trying to make up for culinary lost ground.

It’s funny how I associate certain foods with specific places and times in my life.

Scones take me back to when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, fresh out of college. That’s the first time I had even heard of scones. I guess they were a bit sophisticated for my rural roots.

My favorite scones were from Fat Apple's, an East Bay restaurant & bakery. I wish I had one of their cranberry oatmeal scones right about now.

For my first foray into scone-baking, I tried the Buttermilk Scones from the Tartine cookbook. Tartine is a San Francisco bakery, so I thought it fitting. (BTW, I absolutely love this cookbook, the photography is wonderful and recipes sound delish.)

I suspect I overmixed the dough because I didn’t see chunks of butter like the recipe mentions.

The scones were still light and fluffy, though. They tasted like a sweetened biscuit. Not quite as sweet and tasty as Fat Apple's scones, but still good. I figured they would make a perfect base for strawberry shortcake, so I tossed my finished scones in the freezer until I have time to sugar some strawberries. (Update: they tasted awesome in strawberry shortcake.)

I'd like to try these again, but maybe a oatmeal raisin version. Anybody out there have a sweet oatmeal scone recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to see it.

Here's the recipe:

Buttermilk Scones
Makes 1 dozen *my pictures show a half recipe

4 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1c + 1 T unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp grated lemon zest
3/4 C Zante currants *I used raisins
melted butter and crystal sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400F and butter a baking sheet.

Combine the currants with warm water and let sit for 10 minutes or until plump. Drain.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir to mix with a wooden spoon. Cut the butter into 1/2" cubes and scatter over the dry ingredients. Cut together, either with a pastry blender, 2 table knives, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but don't overmix. You want to end up with a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter visible.

Add the buttermilk all at once along with the lemon zest and currants and mix gently with the wooden spoon. Continue to mix just until you have a dough that holds together. You still want to see some of the butter pieces at this point, which will add to the flakiness of the scones once they are baked.

Dust your work surface with flour, and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 18" long, 5" wide, and 1 1/2" thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the sugar. Using a chef's knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the scones until the tops are lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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